Although some consider it to be the happiest time of the year, the holidays can be an expensive season for everyone. With the holidays quickly approaching, now is the time to get your finances ready for holiday spending.
Here are some of the best ways to prepare your finances for the arrival of the holiday season.
1. Make a holiday budget
When you start creating your holiday budget, your mind likely jumps to the most obvious expenses, such as gifts and travel. But other expenses can quickly add up to derail your carefully laid budget.
Andrea Woroch, a money saving expert, advises that you plan for these sneaky expenses ahead of time.
“There are many other costs that can send you over budget and into debt if you don’t pay attention or prepare ahead for them, from extra groceries for out of town guests to family portraits and extra postage for greeting cards to gift wrap and holiday decor to extra babysitting services,” Woroch says.
With some forethought, your holiday budget can help you stick to your money goal throughout the season. Map out your expected holiday expenses and make sure to leave some room for error.
2. Start saving now
The holiday season will be here before you know it, so now is a good time to start saving for any extra expenses if you can afford to do so.
“With a couple months left to prepare, start a sinking fund to start saving for your holiday expenses,” says Jordan Curnutt, a CFP at Quantum Financial Planning Services. “Not having to dip into your emergency fund or even worse, paying double-digit interest on a credit card, to cover holiday expenses will leave you in a much more secure financial position.”
3. Use coupons
If you are willing to look for deals, then you could save a considerable amount on your holiday expenditures. Many of us will be shopping online this year and there are still opportunities to save money on purchases.
“When doing your shopping, you can make sure you’re getting the best deal and saving on your purchases using a browser extension like Rakuten or Honey,” says Connor Brown, founder of After School Finance.
With the help of a simple extension, you can save money on almost everything. Plus, you don’t have to deal with crowds to enjoy these savings.
4. Consider a side hustle
Although the holiday season can be a busy time, it can also be a good time to pick up a side hustle. “No matter how much you try to cut back, you may not have enough for all those holiday expenses you enjoy from seasonal drinks at Starbucks to entertaining family and friends,” Woroch says. “With this in mind, there are ways you can make extra cash in time for the holidays.”
A side hustle can give a much needed boost to your savings as we enter the holiday season. There are a range of options to choose from such as delivering groceries, walking dogs and more. Take some time to explore your options and decide if a side hustle is right for your holiday spending needs this year.
5. Focus on connections (not items)
The holiday season can be rife with the stress of finding the perfect gift for everyone that you love. Although this is an admirable goal, you may not be able to fit all of your well-intentioned gift giving into a budget that prioritizes your long-term money goals.
Brittany Castro, a CFP at Mint, encourages us to focus on meaningful and inexpensive gifts.
“Most of us don’t need more stuff,” Castro says. “After this difficult year, what many of us really want is to feel connected to our loved ones. And there’s no need to break the bank in order to do so.”
Inexpensive gifts can be extremely meaningful to the recipient if given with love.
Castro shares a few inexpensive gift ideas including:
- A homemade album
- Homemade cookies
- A holiday Zoom party for loved ones unable to travel
Consider what your loved ones truly want this holiday season. You might find that the holidays could be a little more affordable with the right intentions in mind.